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any other dungeon, than that where the king's pri soners were kept,-or had it fallen out at any other crisis, than when Pharaoh's chief butler was cast there too;-had this or any other of these events, fallen out otherwise than it did,a series of unmerited misfortunes had overwhelmed himand, in consequence the whole land of Egypt and Canaan. From the first opening to the conclusion of this long and interesting transaction, the providence of GOD suffered every thing to take its course; the malice and cruelty of Joseph's brethren, wrought the worst mischief against him; -banished him from his country and the protection of his parent.- -The lust and baseness of disappointed woman sunk him still deeper; -loaded his character with an unjust reproach, and, to complete his ruin, doomed him, friendless, to the miseries of a hopeless prison, where he lay neglected. Providence, though it did not cross these events, yet pro vidence bent them to the most merciful ends. When the whole DRAMA was opened,-then the wisdom and contrivance of every part of it was displayed. Then it appeared, it was not they (as the patriarch inferred, in consolation of his brethren), it was not they who sold him, but GOD; -it was He sent him thither before them his superintending power availed itself of their passions,directed the operations of them, -held the chain in his hand, and turned and wound it to his own purpose. verily thought evil against me, but Goo meant it for good ye had the guilt of a bad intention,his providence the glory of accomplishing a good one, by preserving you a posterity upon the earth, and bringing to pass, as it is this day, to save much people alive." All history is full of such testimonies, which, tho' they may convince those who look no deeper than the surface of things,
that time and chance happen to all,- -yet, to those who look deeper, they manifest, at the same time, that there is a hand much busier in human affairs than what we vainly calculate; which,tho' the projectors of this world overlook, or at least make no allowance for, in the formation of their plans, they generally find it in the execution of them. And tho' the fatalist may urge, that every event is brought about by the ministry and chain of natural causes ;yet, in answer,-let him go one step higher-and consider, whose power it is, that enables these causes to work,whose knowledge it is that foresees what will be their effects,whose goodness it is that is invisibly conducting them forwards to the best and greatest ends for the happiness of his creatures.
So that, as a great reasoner justly distinguishes upon this point" It is not only religiously speaking, but with the strictest and most philosophical truth of expression, that the scripture tells us, that GOD commandeth the ravens : that they are his directions, which the winds and the seas obey. If his servant hides himself by the brook, such an order of causes and effects shall be laid, -that the fowls of the air shall minister to his support.- -When this resource fails, and his prophet is directed to go to Zarephath-for that he has commanded a widow woman there to sustain him, the same hand which leads the prophet to the gate of the city-shall lead forth the distressed widow to the same place, to take him under her roof and, tho' upon the impulse of a different occasion, shall nevertheless be made to fulfil his promise and intention of their mutual preservation."
Thus much for the truth and illustration of this great and fundamental doctrine of a providence; the belief of which is of such consequence to us, as to be the great support and comfort of our lives.
Justly, therefore, might the psalmist, upon this declaration that the Lord is King,— -conclude, that the earth may be glad therefore, yea, the multitude of the isles may be glad thereof.
May God grant, the persuasion may make us as virtuous, as it has reason to make us joyful; and that it may bring forth in us the fruits of good living to his praise and glory: To whom bẹ all might, majesty, and dominion, now and for evermore, Amen,
The Character of Herod.
PREACHED ON INNOCENTS DAY.
MATT. ii. 17, 18.
Then was fulfilled that which was spoken by Jeremy the prophet, saying, In Rama was there a voice heard, lamentation, and weeping, and great mourning, Rachel weeping for her children, and would not be comforted, because they are not.
HE words which St. Matthew cites here, as fulfilled by the cruelty and ambition of Herod, are in the 31st chapter of Jeremiah, 15th verse. In the foregoing chapter, the prophet having declared GOD's intention, of turning the mourning of his people into joy, by the restoration of the tribes which had been led away captive into Babylon; he proceeds, in the beginning of. this chapter, which contains this prophecy, to give a more particular description of the great joy and festivity of that promised day, when they were to return once more to their own land, to enter upon their ancient possessions, and enjoy a gain all the privileges they had lost, and, amongst others, and what was above them all,—the favor and protection of Gop, and the continuation of his mercies to them and their posterity.
To make, therefore,the impression of this change the stronger upon their minds-he gives a very pathetic representation of the preceding sorrow on that day when they were first led away captive.
Thus saith the Lord, A voice was heard in Rama; lamentation and bitter weeping, Rachel weeping for her children, refusing to be comforted, because they were not.
To enter into the full sense and beauty of this description, it is to be remembered, that the tomb of Rachel, Jacob's beloved wife, as we read in the 35th of Genesis, was situated near Rama, and betwixt that place and Bethelem. Upon which circumstance, the prophet raises one of the most affecting scenes that could be conceived; for, as the tribes, in their sorrowful journey betwixt Ramą and Bethlehem, in their way to Babylon, were supposed to pass by this monumental pillar of their ancestor Rachel, Jacob's wife, the prophet, by a common liberty in rhetoric, introduces her as rising up out of her sepulchre, and, as the common mother of two of their tribes, weeping for her children, bewailing the sad catastrophe of her posterity led away into a strange land, refusing to be comforted, because they were not,-lost and cut off from their country, and, in all likelihood, never to be restored back to her again.
The Jewish interpreters say upon this, that the patriarch Jacob buried Rachel in this very place, foreseeing, by the spirit of prophecy, that his posterity should that way be led captive, that she might, as they passed her, intercede for them—
But this fanciful superstructure upon the passage, seems to be little else than a mere dream of some of the Jewish Doctors; and indeed, had they not dreamed it when they did, it is great odds, but some of the Romish dreamers would have hit upon it before now. For as it favors the doctrine of intercessions-if there had not been undeniable vouchers for the real inventors of the conceit, one should much sooner have sought for it amongst the oral traditions of this church, than in the Talmud, where it is.
But this by the bye. There is still another interpretation of the words here cited by St. Matthew, which altogether excludes this scenieal representation I have given of them.By which